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Targaryeninkingslanding

Was Renly plotting to kill Joff and Tommen prior to Robert's Death?

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Prior to Robert's death, Renly was supposedly plotting to bring Margaery Tyrell to court in hopes that his brother would set his queen aside for a younger bride. Did he assume the Lannister born heirs would be fine, or did he think they would be set aside? I think that bringing in a new queen would put them in obvious danger as soon as Maid Margaery had a son. Was he not smart enough to see the danger, or did he just not particularly care? He seems to care very little about either despite seemingly not knowing about the incest until Stannis's declaration...

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11 minutes ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

Was he not smart enough to see the danger, or did he just not particularly care?

I think he figured he'd cross that bridge when he came to it. First thing was to get Margaery into Robert's bed, then work from there. I don't think it likely that he didn't think at all about the ultimate result of things if they went how they wanted, but there wasn't much use to actually counting the chickens before the eggs were hatched, so to speak.

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By his character, no. He seems to more be gunning towards controlling the small council and therefore, controlling the rest of Robert's reign. Renly only pushed his claim when war looked certain, and knowing Cersei's ruthlessness, when she going to go after him and Stannis. He was going to fill the court with Tyrells instead of Lannisters. If Robert refused to fall for Cersei, why not marry Joff to Margaery? 

 

Renly didn't press him claim until he was crowned in Highgarden; likely there were meetings among lords and assurances of Tyrell and other high lords' support. His claim was probably partially fueled by Cersei's incompetence; who would have wanted her in charge with Robert gone? The Lannisters would own the throne in entirety and truly begin to act with impunity. A great way of making new loyalists is to replace the old Targaryen ones under pretenses and then boom you have little hold out lords in every major region aside from the North and Iron Isles.


Tommen would have been sent to the Nights watch or kept under guard as permanent ward. Myrcella would inevitably join the faith. And that would have been that. Renly was young hale and healthy, and the 'seed is strong'. After a decade Renly's throne would be secure, and no one would miss Joffrey but his mother.

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You have to keep in mind that replacing a queen with another woman has little to do with replacing the king's heir. A queen wields influence at court, and Renly's plan was to replace Cersei - who he loathed - with another queen he would control via his connection to Loras.

It is possible that further down the road Robert would have decided to disinherit Cersei's children in favor of his children by Margaery ... but for that he would first have to marry Margaery and actually father children on her.

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38 minutes ago, Ranivaka said:

I think he figured he'd cross that bridge when he came to it. First thing was to get Margaery into Robert's bed, then work from there. I don't think it likely that he didn't think at all about the ultimate result of things if they went how they wanted, but there wasn't much use to actually counting the chickens before the eggs were hatched, so to speak.

That was my initial feeling on what was going on.

32 minutes ago, Leonardo said:

By his character, no. He seems to more be gunning towards controlling the small council and therefore, controlling the rest of Robert's reign. Renly only pushed his claim when war looked certain, and knowing Cersei's ruthlessness, when she going to go after him and Stannis. He was going to fill the court with Tyrells instead of Lannisters. If Robert refused to fall for Cersei, why not marry Joff to Margaery? 

 

Renly didn't press him claim until he was crowned in Highgarden; likely there were meetings among lords and assurances of Tyrell and other high lords' support. His claim was probably partially fueled by Cersei's incompetence; who would have wanted her in charge with Robert gone? The Lannisters would own the throne in entirety and truly begin to act with impunity. A great way of making new loyalists is to replace the old Targaryen ones under pretenses and then boom you have little hold out lords in every major region aside from the North and Iron Isles.


Tommen would have been sent to the Nights watch or kept under guard as permanent ward. Myrcella would inevitably join the faith. And that would have been that. Renly was young hale and healthy, and the 'seed is strong'. After a decade Renly's throne would be secure, and no one would miss Joffrey but his mother.

I realized the connection of using loras, but I wasn't think so much as how he would come to control the small council. i think your right that that was probably was his main ambition at the time. Joff would be a bit more difficult i think because that would mean setting aside the daughter of the Then hand of the king, Ned Stark

8 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

You have to keep in mind that replacing a queen with another woman has little to do with replacing the king's heir. A queen wields influence at court, and Renly's plan was to replace Cersei - who he loathed - with another queen he would control via his connection to Loras.

It is possible that further down the road Robert would have decided to disinherit Cersei's children in favor of his children by Margaery ... but for that he would first have to marry Margaery and actually father children on her.

I suppose the line cross for me would be the idea that a queen would want her own child to inherit. I mean if Mace is part of the plot, which i presume he is, i would believe he would want his own grandchildren to inherit the throne and for that to even be part of the nuptial discussion with renly. but your right there are many benefits just to having a family member as royalty, especially for a house insecure of having never been kings in the past. gives them some real legitimacy to hold the other reach powers at bay.

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7 minutes ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

I suppose the line cross for me would be the idea that a queen would want her own child to inherit. I mean if Mace is part of the plot, which i presume he is, i would believe he would want his own grandchildren to inherit the throne and for that to even be part of the nuptial discussion with renly. but your right there are many benefits just to having a family member as royalty, especially for a house insecure of having never been kings in the past. gives them some real legitimacy to hold the other reach powers at bay.

Robert might have been able to divorce Cersei, he would not have been able to divorce the Lannisters. Tyrell marriage would have been pointless for the Tyrells if Margery's children couldn't inherit so whether or not it was an explicit part of the plan at that point, the Lannister children would have to have all been taken care of eventually and I suspect that there was at least an unspoken understanding among the parties involved. Did Renly think that could be solved easily with an accusation of incest?  I suspect that he did, because that's the only way that the kids could have been disinherited without upsetting Tywin (the only guy who didn't know?), though how he would have responded to proof of his children's incest and the invalidation of their heirs is anyone's guess.  Really the whole plan seems like more of a dream than a thought out plan, 

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2 minutes ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

I suppose the line cross for me would be the idea that a queen would want her own child to inherit. I mean if Mace is part of the plot, which i presume he is, i would believe he would want his own grandchildren to inherit the throne and for that to even be part of the nuptial discussion with renly. but your right there are many benefits just to having a family member as royalty, especially for a house insecure of having never been kings in the past. gives them some real legitimacy to hold the other reach powers at bay.

The plot as we know it didn't include Mace so much as Renly and Loras. Loras has to write letters to Highgarden urging his father to send Margaery to court. It doesn't look as if Mace was truly part of that plot. He seems to have been reluctant to go along with it, possibly because he didn't believe Robert would truly marry Margaery even if she were able to seduce him.

Mace's notion to have a grandson of his on the Iron Throne seems to have been an idea that only started with him supporting 'King Renly' and his decision to marry Margaery to Renly. It is this desire of Mace's which, after Renly's sudden death, leads to the Margaery-Joffrey marriage and eventually to Margaery's marriage to Tommen.

You also have to keep in mind that Robert was a rather young king - only in his thirties. He could have ruled for another 10-20 years ... at which time Robert's heir, Prince Joffrey, could have been betrothed or married to one of Margaery's cousins. Margaery as Robert's queen could have opened the door for other marriages between Robert's family and the Tyrells.

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4 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

The plot as we know it didn't include Mace so much as Renly and Loras. Loras has to write letters to Highgarden urging his father to send Margaery to court. It doesn't look as if Mace was truly part of that plot. He seems to have been reluctant to go along with it, possibly because he didn't believe Robert would truly marry Margaery even if she were able to seduce him.

Mace's notion to have a grandson of his on the Iron Throne seems to have been an idea that only started with him supporting 'King Renly' and his decision to marry Margaery to Renly. It is this desire of Mace's which, after Renly's sudden death, leads to the Margaery-Joffrey marriage and eventually to Margaery's marriage to Tommen.

You also have to keep in mind that Robert was a rather young king - only in his thirties. He could have ruled for another 10-20 years ... at which time Robert's heir, Prince Joffrey, could have been betrothed or married to one of Margaery's cousins. Margaery as Robert's queen could have opened the door for other marriages between Robert's family and the Tyrells.

Great critique @Lord Varys, though I'm not sure about the marriage of a tyrell to Joff, assuming Sansa is still in play. but a marriage to tommen, heir to castle rock (maybe) would definitely look plausible and reachable.

24 minutes ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

Robert might have been able to divorce Cersei, he would not have been able to divorce the Lannisters. Tyrell marriage would have been pointless for the Tyrells if Margery's children couldn't inherit so whether or not it was an explicit part of the plan at that point, the Lannister children would have to have all been taken care of eventually and I suspect that there was at least an unspoken understanding among the parties involved. Did Renly think that could be solved easily with an accusation of incest?  I suspect that he did, because that's the only way that the kids could have been disinherited without upsetting Tywin (the only guy who didn't know?), though how he would have responded to proof of his children's incest and the invalidation of their heirs is anyone's guess.  Really the whole plan seems like more of a dream than a thought out plan, 

Tywin definitely wouldn't take the slight sitting. who knows what the man would do... I actually really what to read about what he would do.

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37 minutes ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

Robert might have been able to divorce Cersei, he would not have been able to divorce the Lannisters. Tyrell marriage would have been pointless for the Tyrells if Margery's children couldn't inherit so whether or not it was an explicit part of the plan at that point, the Lannister children would have to have all been taken care of eventually and I suspect that there was at least an unspoken understanding among the parties involved. Did Renly think that could be solved easily with an accusation of incest?  I suspect that he did, because that's the only way that the kids could have been disinherited without upsetting Tywin (the only guy who didn't know?), though how he would have responded to proof of his children's incest and the invalidation of their heirs is anyone's guess.  Really the whole plan seems like more of a dream than a thought out plan, 

Renly and the Tyrells had no clue about the twincest ... nor would Renly need Margaery to destroy Cersei if he had known. Then he could have just convinced Robert of the truth somehow to eventually suggest that he marry Margaery (assuming he felt that was still necessary after Cersei and her children were gone ... after all, Renly himself is closer to the throne if Robert dies without legitimate children) once Cersei and her children are done away with.

Cersei's children might not like the disgrace of their mother all that much. But their status in the kingdom is dependent on them remaining loyal to their father, King Robert. If Joffrey hadn't gotten along with Margaery, say, then Robert may have threatened to or actually disinherited him in favor of his younger children (either by Cersei or Margaery). After all, Robert didn't exactly like or dote on Joffrey. He wasn't close to any of Cersei's children.

In that sense, by the time of Robert's hypothetical death ten or twenty years from now Cersei's children and whatever children Robert and Margaery may have had may have gotten along splendidly.

16 minutes ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

Great critique @Lord Varys, though I'm not sure about the marriage of a tyrell to Joff, assuming Sansa is still in play. but a marriage to tommen, heir to castle rock (maybe) would definitely look plausible and reachable.

Sansa is technically still in the game when Loras writes those letters. But we know Ned wanted to resign as Hand and didn't exactly intend to go through with the Joffrey match. By the time Margaery would have married Robert - something that would have been months or years in the future - the political situation could have been completely different.

I have great problems imagining Ned continuing as Hand when Robert decides to set aside Cersei in favor of a new wife. He never liked Cersei, but this would have been a pretty big scandal, and I don't see Ned approving of Robert doing something as shitty as this. Thus chances are pretty good that Renly would take over as Hand to help his brother to see this whole thing through.

And from that point on they could also arrange a new marriage for Joffrey. Also, considering Joff's personality it is also pretty likely he would be too stupid to suffer the disgrace of his mother in silence. He is only twelve in AGoT, but he is a little hotspur, so one could see him openly defying his father and refusing to acknowledge or treat Margaery as the new queen. And that certainly could have led to Robert disinheriting and/or exiling him, meaning he would have been passed over in the succession ... not necessarily in favor of Margaery's children but in favor of Tommen.

Who definitely could have married one of Margaery's cousins.

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Lannister influence at court flows from Cersei. It's not about usurping Joffrey, it's about cutting Cersei off from Robert. Robert could live for decades while the Tyrells exert influence over him and enhance their position and by the time Joffrey inherits he might not be in a position or even lack the will to do anything about it. Not every political machination is a zero-sum game about claiming the throne, basically every monarchical system in history is full of clans jockeying for power and influence through the wives, concubines and mistresses of those in power because saying fuck it and starting a war usually isn't practical, even for a new king that doesn't particularly like an influential family that had pull with his late father. 

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18 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

Prior to Robert's death, Renly was supposedly plotting to bring Margaery Tyrell to court in hopes that his brother would set his queen aside for a younger bride. Did he assume the Lannister born heirs would be fine, or did he think they would be set aside? I think that bringing in a new queen would put them in obvious danger as soon as Maid Margaery had a son. Was he not smart enough to see the danger, or did he just not particularly care? He seems to care very little about either despite seemingly not knowing about the incest until Stannis's declaration...

It was either a half-baked plan just between Renly and Loras or it was part of a larger scheme to push all the Lannisters aside. If it was the latter, then Lady Olenna would have to green light the whole thing, which she would only do if Margaery was in a position to birth the next heir to the throne. And the only way for that to happen is for Cersei to be set aside and her children disinherited, which in turn can only be done if she is guilty of some great crime, like fathering her brother's children and passing them off as the king's. 

So even if Renly and/or Loras are not aware that exposing the incest is part of this plan, Lady O is -- again, assuming she is the one directing all of this.

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17 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Renly and the Tyrells had no clue about the twincest

I doubt that.  I know he denies knowledge when he's talking to Stannis about his letter, but telling Stannis he knows he's the rightful King in front of Cat would not have been in his best interest at all. He knows his brother, and he's been able to observe Cersei and Jamie for quite some time. He's seen Edric Storm and possibly Gendry. He talks to Littlefinger. He's seen all the kids (the Weaks lol)... I find it hard to accept that he wasn't at the very least suspicious and like much of the rest of Robert's small council was sitting on that suspicion until it was politically expedient to reveal.

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18 hours ago, Targaryeninkingslanding said:

Tywin definitely wouldn't take the slight sitting. who knows what the man would do... I actually really what to read about what he would do

It's too bad Mr Martin didn't decide to take the story in this direction. Watching proud Tywin Lannister eat his poop and make the decision to protect the secret in the name of his family would have been quite entertaining.  

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1 hour ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

I doubt that.  I know he denies knowledge when he's talking to Stannis about his letter, but telling Stannis he knows he's the rightful King in front of Cat would not have been in his best interest at all. He knows his brother, and he's been able to observe Cersei and Jamie for quite some time. He's seen Edric Storm and possibly Gendry. He talks to Littlefinger. He's seen all the kids (the Weaks lol)... I find it hard to accept that he wasn't at the very least suspicious and like much of the rest of Robert's small council was sitting on that suspicion until it was politically expedient to reveal.

The idea that anyone but Varys - who may have had his little birds overhear some of the conversations Jaime and Cersei had and who may have been aware of their affair since Cersei convinced Jaime to join the KG - actually knew about the twincest is far-fetched. Stannis suspected something for some reason and Jon Arryn took Stannis' suspicions seriously, but we have no idea whether Littlefinger and Pycelle didn't just figure out that this might be the case in the wake of Jon's death. Lysa would have told Littlefinger about Jon's investigation when she turned to him for help. And Pycelle only hints at the twincest after he has heard about and read Stannis' letter.

Renly was a pretty new addition to the court and the entire Margaery plan actually makes little sense if Renly knew or suspected that Cersei had an affair with Jaime. Then he could have destroyed Cersei without needing Margaery to seduce Robert. Also, Renly wouldn't have urged Ned to take custody of Cersei and her children to secure a smooth transition of power. Instead, he would have told Robert on his deathbed that Cersei's children weren't his and/or he would have told Ned.

There would have also been no reason for Renly to flee KL if he could have dropped that bomb. If he had played his cards right he could have crippled Cersei's ability to recruit support in KL, for instance, if the story about the twincest had been spread in the city before Robert's death. Renly had a lot of friends in KL and could have done that.

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4 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

It was either a half-baked plan just between Renly and Loras or it was part of a larger scheme to push all the Lannisters aside. If it was the latter, then Lady Olenna would have to green light the whole thing, which she would only do if Margaery was in a position to birth the next heir to the throne. And the only way for that to happen is for Cersei to be set aside and her children disinherited, which in turn can only be done if she is guilty of some great crime, like fathering her brother's children and passing them off as the king's. 

So even if Renly and/or Loras are not aware that exposing the incest is part of this plan, Lady O is -- again, assuming she is the one directing all of this.

This line of thought suggests to me Renly might know about the twincest, no matter what he might have been saying, because someone informed him. Within the context of the story, that he resolved the matter himself is doubtful. Still, 

'Sansa felt tears in her eyes. "He is not! He's not the least bit like that old drunken king," she screamed at her sister, forgetting herself in her grief.

Father looked at her strangely. "Gods," he swore softly, "out of the mouth of babes …"'

The evidence, divergence of family resemblance, divergence of character, was there for all to see, even not everyone had an incentive to make the connection.

Famously, one of the inspirations for the story is the actual history of the War of the Roses. It is fitting within the context of the Wars of the Roses that a royal heir be accused of illegitimacy and a rival pretender to the throne be raised. So, I speculate a plot dreamed up by Littlefinger and Olenna, might have been to place to put Renly on the throne from the start. They begin by putting Margaery in a position to attract the king, and then raise the scandal of twincest, the facts of which I really think those two would have worked long ago, observing one dark haired bastard after another, compared to an unbroken series of towheads.

Going out on a limb, once convinced of the twincest Robert would move to divorce (execute?) Cersei like Henry the VIII (what other resemblances come to mind?) and disinherit her children, triggering an immediate need for a new heir. Luckily noble and virginal (and rich) Margaery is at hand. Isn’t that lucky? Henry did not execute his disinherited children, but I’ll grant that in the context of the story there is room to argue that Robert would have moved to execute them as potential rivals.  

Going further out on the limb, Tywin would have stood for none of it, but Jamie would have acted first …. So, the king is dead and the Lannister children with the stain of illegitimacy and their family in open rebellion, Renly may press his pretense to the throne, Margaery remains an ideal queen.

What about Stannis? I suppose that Littlefinger and Olenna have thought about this and had some sort of plans, even if secretly divergent.

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20 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The idea that anyone but Varys - who may have had his little birds overhear some of the conversations Jaime and Cersei had and who may have been aware of their affair since Cersei convinced Jaime to join the KG - actually knew about the twincest is far-fetched. Stannis suspected something for some reason and Jon Arryn took Stannis' suspicions seriously, but we have no idea whether Littlefinger and Pycelle didn't just figure out that this might be the case in the wake of Jon's death. Lysa would have told Littlefinger about Jon's investigation when she turned to him for help. And Pycelle only hints at the twincest after he has heard about and read Stannis' letter.

The fact that Varys knew is implicit in his conversation with Illyrio overheard by Arya.

Stannis knew. Stannis is kind of an awkward guy with an awkward relationship with his wife. I don’t think that this is an area that he would naturally be inclined to speculate on his own. I suspect that he got his suspicion from someone else unless he saw something directly, but Cersei or Jamie never make any mention of Stannis catching them in compromising situations.

Jon Arryn was investigating because Stannis brought it to him

Littlefinger has Lysa kill Jon Arryn. Why? He was either manipulated by Varys which may be inferred from the conversation between V and I “If one hand can die, why not a second… You’ve danced that dance before, my friend” or he did it for his own reasons. Chaos? Lysa’s undying affection? A step on the road to running the Vale? Or to control the secret?

Pycelle may or may not have known. Did the maester at Casterly Rock ever find out? Anything he knew would have gone to Pycelle.  If the maesters are working to keep the targs and their dragons from the iron throne then Cersei and Jamie were found money to them because taking out the targs and ignoring the Baratheons would be a half measure that could undermine generations of work. Joffrey’s or Tommen’s children would never be dragon riders. Also he’s a Lannister partisan so I would suggest that whether or not he knew he would have behaved the same way either out of loyalty to Tywin or his chains.

Selmy probably didn’t know.

I’m not going to say that Robert himself knew, but I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s a lot colder to Joffrey than he is to his bastards and his drunken withdrawl from his royal and family duties could be reflective of something other than boredom with counting coppers.

So I would suggest that enough people around Renley knew that it would be unlikely that a rumor didn’t reach him if he hadn’t developed suspicions of his own.

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10 minutes ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

The fact that Varys knew is implicit in his conversation with Illyrio overheard by Arya.

That could be, although Illyrio might also reference another Hand from the reign of Aerys II.

10 minutes ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

Stannis knew. Stannis is kind of an awkward guy with an awkward relationship with his wife. I don’t think that this is an area that he would naturally be inclined to speculate on his own. I suspect that he got his suspicion from someone else unless he saw something directly, but Cersei or Jamie never make any mention of Stannis catching them in compromising situations.

Stannis didn't know. He suspected and declared that his suspicions were enough for him to crown himself. He talks about the twincest repeatedly but never reveals he saw anything directly nor does he ever offer any evidence that Cersei's children are all Jaime's. Keep in mind that Cersei having an affair with Jaime does not equal Jaime being the father of her children. She could have had sex with both Jaime and Robert (and other men, too) and Robert could still have been the father.

The only guy who truly knew what was going on aside from Cersei and Jaime was Ned ... and he only knew because Cersei told him.

One thing which may have triggered Stannis' suspicions seems to have been the cat incident. He was there when Joff showed Robert the pregnant cat he had butchered, and it seems that this event got him thinking. It also got Robert thinking, after all. When talking to Ned he admitted that he didn't understand how he could have fathered such a son.

Nobody at court had any reason to actually tell Stannis about the twincest because nobody liked Stannis and nobody would want to rock the boat and start a chain of events which would strengthen Stannis' position at court. Which would have happened if Stannis had become Robert's presumptive heir again until such a time as Robert had remarried and fathered trueborn children on his new wife. And even then Stannis would have remained an important figure until those children had grown older.

10 minutes ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

Littlefinger has Lysa kill Jon Arryn. Why? He was either manipulated by Varys which may be inferred from the conversation between V and I “If one hand can die, why not a second… You’ve danced that dance before, my friend” or he did it for his own reasons. Chaos? Lysa’s undying affection? A step on the road to running the Vale? Or to control the secret?

Littlefinger and Lysa knew about the twincest when they sent the letter to Cat implicating the Lannisters. But we don't know how they learned about it. It could have been via Jon. Jon could have let something slip to Lysa which she then told Littlefinger. Jon was murdered by Lysa because she wanted to prevent that he send her child to Dragonstone. It was Littlefinger who suggested murder and gave her the Tears of Lys but the problem was Lysa's and Littlefinger doesn't need another motive than wanting to help Lysa.

After all, his plan B setting throughout the novels is to gain a title which would allow him to marry the widowed Lysa without causing a big scandal.

It is also possible that Varys told Littlefinger about Jon's investigation causing him to urge Lysa to murder Jon because he did not want the twincest to come out at that point - it would trigger the civil war he wanted to postpone - while Littlefinger had every reason to ensure Stannis did not get more power at court because that could mean the end of his career.

10 minutes ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

Pycelle may or may not have known. Did the maester at Casterly Rock ever find out? Anything he knew would have gone to Pycelle.  If the maesters are working to keep the targs and their dragons from the iron throne then Cersei and Jamie were found money to them because taking out the targs and ignoring the Baratheons would be a half measure that could undermine generations of work. Joffrey’s or Tommen’s children would never be dragon riders. Also he’s a Lannister partisan so I would suggest that whether or not he knew he would have behaved the same way either out of loyalty to Tywin or his chains.

Folks back at Casterly Rock could have known about Cersei and Jaime's early attempts at sex ... but that's not the same as knowing they actually had an affair as adults, continued that affair after Cersei's marriage, and that Jaime is also the father of all of Cersei's children.

10 minutes ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

I’m not going to say that Robert himself knew, but I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s a lot colder to Joffrey than he is to his bastards and his drunken withdrawl from his royal and family duties could be reflective of something other than boredom with counting coppers.

Robert clearly didn't know. And we have no idea what he would have believed if Stannis, Jon, or Ned would have told him. His first impulse may have been to dismiss this as preposterous ... because it is really a preposterous thing to do. But he didn't like Cersei and he had no real relationship with his children, so there would be little reason for him to insist that Cersei's children must be his children.

And once he learned about the black hair thing he would have thought about the looks of his brothers, father, grandfather, other kin, and those of his bastard children he knew.

10 minutes ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

So I would suggest that enough people around Renley knew that it would be unlikely that a rumor didn’t reach him if he hadn’t developed suspicions of his own.

We cannot imagine that this was a rumor floating around. If such a rumor floated around Robert would have heard it eventually. Not to mention other people at court. The Lannisters were never popular at court, so somebody would have used such a rumor to destroy them.

Instead, the idea is that pretty much nobody knew this, and only very few people quietly suspected something like that might be the case. And they did not spread this as a rumor.

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22 hours ago, namfoodle said:

This line of thought suggests to me Renly might know about the twincest, no matter what he might have been saying, because someone informed him. Within the context of the story, that he resolved the matter himself is doubtful. Still, 

'Sansa felt tears in her eyes. "He is not! He's not the least bit like that old drunken king," she screamed at her sister, forgetting herself in her grief.

Father looked at her strangely. "Gods," he swore softly, "out of the mouth of babes …"'

The evidence, divergence of family resemblance, divergence of character, was there for all to see, even not everyone had an incentive to make the connection.

Famously, one of the inspirations for the story is the actual history of the War of the Roses. It is fitting within the context of the Wars of the Roses that a royal heir be accused of illegitimacy and a rival pretender to the throne be raised. So, I speculate a plot dreamed up by Littlefinger and Olenna, might have been to place to put Renly on the throne from the start. They begin by putting Margaery in a position to attract the king, and then raise the scandal of twincest, the facts of which I really think those two would have worked long ago, observing one dark haired bastard after another, compared to an unbroken series of towheads.

Going out on a limb, once convinced of the twincest Robert would move to divorce (execute?) Cersei like Henry the VIII (what other resemblances come to mind?) and disinherit her children, triggering an immediate need for a new heir. Luckily noble and virginal (and rich) Margaery is at hand. Isn’t that lucky? Henry did not execute his disinherited children, but I’ll grant that in the context of the story there is room to argue that Robert would have moved to execute them as potential rivals.  

Going further out on the limb, Tywin would have stood for none of it, but Jamie would have acted first …. So, the king is dead and the Lannister children with the stain of illegitimacy and their family in open rebellion, Renly may press his pretense to the throne, Margaery remains an ideal queen.

What about Stannis? I suppose that Littlefinger and Olenna have thought about this and had some sort of plans, even if secretly divergent.

The thorn in this scenario is why Littlefinger would be urging Ned to support Joffrey, not Renly, when his aim is to crown Renly.

It seems to me that LF is more in league with Illyrio than Lady Olenna. He used Lady O to kill Joffrey (accidentally, BTW, their real target was Tyrion), but Petyr seems to be acting in Illyrio's interests overall. He talked the small council out of hiring a faceless man to kill Dany, prompting Drogo to invade Westeros, just like Illyrio wanted. And he tried to talk Ned out of supporting Stannis and plunging the kingdom into civil war at that moment, just like Illyrio wanted.

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12 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

We cannot imagine that this was a rumor floating around. If such a rumor floated around Robert would have heard it eventually. Not to mention other people at court. The Lannisters were never popular at court, so somebody would have used such a rumor to destroy them.

'Rumor floating around' is a little broader than I intended. Secret known among some small council members may fit better. 

We've seen how little Baelish actually regarded Lysa once he had gotten what he wanted out of her and you acknowledge that he found out before killing Jon. I maintain that it was to protect this secret that Jon was killed and if Jon wasn't gathering evidence Petyr would have waited for nature to do its own dirty work. Up until this point Jon had been very useful to Baelish as a patron.  The man does seem to switch horses without too much dwelling on the past though... The whole Robin to Dragonstone plot could have been instigated to push Lysa -but that's just speculation I'll admit. Seems a little coincidental to me though that the two events weren't connected considering how they came together and their results.

22 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Folks back at Casterly Rock could have known about Cersei and Jaime's early attempts at sex ... but that's not the same as knowing they actually had an affair as adults, continued that affair after Cersei's marriage, and that Jaime is also the father of all of Cersei's children.

But it would have been enough to draw Pycelle's eye and he might have seen a lot. Did he think it was curious that Jamie was there for the Cersei's births? Like I said though, if he suspected he would have likely been either horrified or delighted but kept his mouth shut either way.

 

25 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Robert clearly didn't know. And we have no idea what he would have believed if Stannis, Jon, or Ned would have told him. His first impulse may have been to dismiss this as preposterous ... because it is really a preposterous thing to do. But he didn't like Cersei and he had no real relationship with his children, so there would be little reason for him to insist that Cersei's children must be his children.

And once he learned about the black hair thing he would have thought about the looks of his brothers, father, grandfather, other kin, and those of his bastard children he knew.

I've said 'know' a few times where I should have said suspected.  Robert's so cucked that Mr Martin felt the need to put horns on his sigil. The King's Layer is banging his wife in his stead, but of course those details are for us not him and he wouldn't read into them. Still I think he was pretending not to know. I think the heart of his failures as king were from his personal shame at his failures as a husband and father and the fact that he has to pretend he didn't know. I know that every says that if Robert ever found out that would be the end of Cersei and war with the Westerlands but that's more likely what would happen if people knew he knew. If he knew and thought he was the only one who knew he would protect his shameful secret, keep drinking and just grow more distant and despondent.  Kind of a diversion regardless. He certainly wouldn't have told Renley, whatever he suspected.

But Littlefinger might have, Varys may have intimated it if he thought it was the right button to push on Renley, Stannis -though I think it's as likely that he heard from Renley as the other way around because as I said I think Stannis would be the last to make this sort of assumption on his own. I'm not sure when exactly Mel came into the picture, is it possible she saw a couple of lions with 6 toed kittens in her fires?

Anyway I just don't see it as an airtight secret.

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2 hours ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

'Rumor floating around' is a little broader than I intended. Secret known among some small council members may fit better. 

It may have been a secret suspicion among some people at court, but not something they knew. Knowledge would mean somebody witnessed or overheard something. And that's something only Varys and his little birds may have done.

2 hours ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

We've seen how little Baelish actually regarded Lysa once he had gotten what he wanted out of her and you acknowledge that he found out before killing Jon. I maintain that it was to protect this secret that Jon was killed and if Jon wasn't gathering evidence Petyr would have waited for nature to do its own dirty work. Up until this point Jon had been very useful to Baelish as a patron.  The man does seem to switch horses without too much dwelling on the past though... The whole Robin to Dragonstone plot could have been instigated to push Lysa -but that's just speculation I'll admit. Seems a little coincidental to me though that the two events weren't connected considering how they came together and their results.

It seems as if Littlefinger telling Lysa to write that letter to Cat - as well as Littlefinger not being surprised when Ned told him about the twincest - that he knew or suspected something, yes. Although the mere letter to Winterfell would also have been possible if Littlefinger just had a keen eye on dynamics at court. The fact that the Lannisters weren't all that popular with the Starks and vice versa wouldn't have been a secret. That all goes back to the Sack of King's Landing.

My take on things is that Lysa was the driving force behind Jon's murder. She was desperate when her husband tried to take Robert from her ... and we see how she threatened Cat when she suggested she could take Robert as ward to Winterfell. With her husband she had to go through with such a threat. Littlefinger doesn't have a motive to murder Jon and it seems as if he was actually just helping Lysa there to keep her sweet. Part of the reason why Lysa was willing to do this would have been the fact that they had agreed that Littlefinger would eventually marry her.

2 hours ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

But it would have been enough to draw Pycelle's eye and he might have seen a lot. Did he think it was curious that Jamie was there for the Cersei's births? Like I said though, if he suspected he would have likely been either horrified or delighted but kept his mouth shut either way.

Jaime is Cersei's twin brother. People tend to forget that. Even without their incestuous relationship they would expected to have a very close personal bond. There is no indication that Cersei-Jaime being close or spending much time together was viewed as improper or unusual by anyone. We see, for instance, how normal it is for Cersei and Jaime to be together and break their fast with the children at Winterfell. Robert isn't there and doesn't seem to care.

In fact, if you look at things the idea of the twincest is a very far-fetched and stupid idea. Cersei and Jaime are twins, so any signs of deep affection between them should be interpreted as an expression of the deep bond that comes with that ... rather than the fantasy of them having an incestuous relationship.

In that sense, it is actually rather odd that Stannis should have thought that Cersei had an affair with Jaime in light of the fact that incest is very rare and she could have had other lovers.

2 hours ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

I've said 'know' a few times where I should have said suspected.  Robert's so cucked that Mr Martin felt the need to put horns on his sigil. The King's Layer is banging his wife in his stead, but of course those details are for us not him and he wouldn't read into them. Still I think he was pretending not to know. I think the heart of his failures as king were from his personal shame at his failures as a husband and father and the fact that he has to pretend he didn't know. I know that every says that if Robert ever found out that would be the end of Cersei and war with the Westerlands but that's more likely what would happen if people knew he knew. If he knew and thought he was the only one who knew he would protect his shameful secret, keep drinking and just grow more distant and despondent.  Kind of a diversion regardless. He certainly wouldn't have told Renley, whatever he suspected.

I don't think Robert had any clue about what was going on. If he had, he wouldn't have spoken so openly and casually about Joffrey and that he couldn't really understand how he could have fathered a son like that. We would then also not get the story about Robert only rarely having sex with Cersei and being mostly drunk at that time so he could not remember what kind of sex they actually had.

If he had suspected something he would have been more circumspect, never raising the possibility that he might not be the father of the children nor wondering how he could be Joff's father.

Also, Robert really seems to trust Jaime. This would also make no sense if he might suspect the guy was cuckolding him. If that ever came out Robert would have to execute or severely punish Jaime regardless whether he wanted it or not.

2 hours ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

But Littlefinger might have, Varys may have intimated it if he thought it was the right button to push on Renley, Stannis -though I think it's as likely that he heard from Renley as the other way around because as I said I think Stannis would be the last to make this sort of assumption on his own. I'm not sure when exactly Mel came into the picture, is it possible she saw a couple of lions with 6 toed kittens in her fires?

If Renly knew or had told anything about it to Stannis we would know that, too. Instead, Renly gives no indication that he knew prior to Stannis' letter and he later actually publicly dismisses the contents of that letter.

Renly doesn't care much about claims. But if he believed that Cersei's children were not Robert's that certainly would have helped his cause. That he didn't really use that story in his campaign implies he didn't believe the story even after he heard about it.

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